Among the many states in India, Maharashtra stands unique in celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi. Of the six major categories of Sanathana Dharma preached by Adhi Shankara, Ganaapathyam is all about Ganapathi worship where the Elephant Headed God is considered as supreme. It is said that many scriptures on Ganapathyam originated in Maharashtra. The all powerful Maha Ganapathi , the remover of all obstacles is woshipped at the very beginning of every pooja even if they are aimed at other Gods. Maharashtra state is blessed with eight important shrines for Ganesha,usually called as Ashta Ganapathi Temples.
Ganapathi in the form of a young child is indeed a fascination to people of all ages. Maharashtrians still call him as "Bappa" as He looks like a baby. Adhi Shankara in his Subramanya Bhujangam mentions about Him as "Sadha Baala roopaapi vignaathri hanthree" He further refers Him as " Kalyana moorthi". During the 10 day festival in the state, He is worshipped and taken care fondly by those who worship Him both at Mandals and at Home.
A visit during this period is a delight to everybody as the entire state is in a celebration mode. Even the poorest of the poor takes part in the ten day festival. It is not uncommon to see a servant maid buying an idol of Ganesha for Rs 6000 which is too big money for her. The daily rituals include fasting and in many cases food is mostly avoided and they are content with some fruits. When the idols are taken out in a procession for immersion, the affection poured in all these days comes out in the form of tears that run from their eyes.
Huge idols are kept in pandals of each area and named after that area such as "Lalbagh cha Raja", "Wadala cha Raja", "NRI cha Raja" and so on. Bhajans and various other programmes are held in these make shift "Temples" . Lot of devotees are fed in each area on all the days. The idols are beautifully decorated with garlands and kept under revolving lights of different colours. People throng in good numbers although Monsoon is active in this region.
Visarjan(Immersion) of Ganesh idols takes place on different days during the festival. Regardless of the arrangement, one can see large number of Ganesha idols of different Mandals go for visarjan on the prescribed days. The idols are kept on trucks and people follow them to witness the visarjan ceremony at ponds/Lakes/Sea.
The drum beat of the band troupe is certainly a treat to watch. It is really surprising that the group does not get tired even after performing for many hours. The white dressed men wearing white cap walk in front of the truck under focussed lights. With the slogan "Ganapthi Bappa Morya"raised to the high pitch, the deity is carefully immersed in water to the delight of the onlookers present over there, unmindful of the heavy showers. Perhaps the devotion towards "Mumbai cha Raja" keeps going every aspiration of the Mumbaikars. No wonder Mumbai is the wealth capital of India.